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Underutilised Fish Hatchery Worries Residents

SELEBI-PHIKWE: Mmadinare residents have expressed concern over the abandonment of the fish hatchery unit that was built in their village a few years ago in a bid to encourage fish farming.

Speaking at the stakeholders consultative conference organised by the Mmadinare Development Trust (MDT) on Thursday, the trust’s secretary Patrick Magowe indicated that the facility, built as a part of economic diversification is currently dilapidated, adding that no one has since been held accountable for it.

He added that the facility that cost government millions of pula has not generated any income or benefited residents in any way ever since it was set up.

“This is a waste of tax payers’ money and it is a great concern to some of us as taxpayers who know that our money was used to build the facility,” said Magowe.

He even showed pictures of the abandoned unit in a slide show during the meeting, a thing that did not sit well with some attendants who felt that he was exposing the government department that is responsible for the facility.

Magowe further stated that MDT has keen interest to acquire the facility and renovate it so that they may introduce different fish species for fish farming.

He said that they would also create cluster fish farmers and provide them with training programmes on running a sustainable fish farming business.

Meanwhile, the conference got heated up as residents and officials from different organisations could not agree on the way forward with regards to the introduction of business opportunities at Letsibogo dam.

The residents questioned the current ownership of the dam, saying they have every right to fully own the dam as it is in their area.

The dam is currently owned by the Water Utilities Corporation (WUC), which the villagers slammed for failing to monitor the activities around the dam that has resulted in its pollution as well as attracting illegal fishing.

Some of them threatened to close down roads leading to the dam in a bid to block free entry if the matter is not addressed, noting that the free access poses a threat of bringing undesired practices to the dam.

“No one monitors those boats that come to the dam and we do not even know who

they belong to.  We need to order WUC to stop issuing out fishing licences to address this situation,” said one resident.

They added that in January this year, Letsibogo Primary School nearly closed down as the dam that supplies the school with water was polluted.

For her part, SPEDU representative, Lesedi Lungu told attendants that a master plan for development at the four dams in the area has been successfully drafted and will soon be presented to the area’s residents.

She added that thorough consultation was made with all key stakeholders including MDT, Selebi-Phikwe Town Council and Bobonong council, among others.

Lungu further implored the trust to draw a business proposal in order to run the fish hatchery unit, highlighting the need for them to know their natural resources’ boundaries and apply for those resources’ ownership rights.

The trust’s chairman, Ditshupo Ntwaagae said that they have no source of income and an office, something he said has a negative impact on the successful running of the trust.

Ntwaagae added that the participation of the villagers in the trust, especially young people is worrisome, noting that the turn up for the meetings is always low.

In his response to lack of participation by residents, the councillor for Mmadinare/Robelela ward, Sylvester Masweu blamed it on the village’s chieftaincy saga that he said has divided them.

“We need an urgent meeting where everyone will air out whatever concern they have regarding the issue, and resolve it once and for all,” said Masweu.

Masweu further highlighted that this has also immensely contributed to Mmadinare being undeveloped compared to Bobonong village.

In the meantime, SPEDU chief executive officer, Mokubung Mokubung assured the trust members as well as other residents that SPEDU will come up with ways of restoring the hatchery unit to be fully functional.

He also pledged to build an office for MDT.

Mokubung further stated that the project plan that seeks to implement eco-tourism projects around the Letsibogo and Dikgatlhong dams will be presented to the residents and other key critical stakeholders in the area this month.




Peace be still

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